I’ve just started reading this second-hand, 1973 paperback – a Christmas present from my son’s German girlfriend. Admire the book’s yellow pages – it’s 48 years-old! The enclosed bookmark says the book came from one of the many Berlin bookshops selling English books.
Astonishingly, Berlin bookshops are considered ‘essential services’ during lockdown and allowed to stay open – we in the UK can only dream.
The shackles have been relaxed a little and the shops have reopened, including Waterstones the bookshop – yay!
I’ve just finished reading my 100th book of the year so what better way to reward myself than a little restocking. Three very different non-fiction books – a true crime, an autobiography and some history/politics.
I’m currently reading Dictators, by Frank Dikötter. It’s an examination of eight twentieth-century dictators. Fascinating stuff with astonishing parallels with the personality of the current American president. It’s enthused me to make an effort to read more history.
My local high street was heaving, due no doubt to the relaxing of the Covid restrictions as well as being not-long-to Christmas. And with Debenhams about to shut, the scavengers were out looking for a bargain.
In these difficult times I’ve been getting my reading material from different sources:
Re-reading books from my shelves
ebooks downloaded from my local library
Blackwell’s online bookshop
Today I ventured into our local Waterstones and came away with three books. I can’t say that wearing a mask for the length of time it takes me to browse is a pleasant experience, but it was fine. And it’s good to be back in a bookshop again!
It’s a nightmare going by car from North Surrey to Milton Keynes. Getting there it was the South/North Circular – a mere 14 miles in the first hour, followed by the M1 motorway. The return journey was M1 and M25 which was going well until it wasn’t. Five hours total driving is no fun on our road system.
Not being able to browse bookshops, I’m getting my reading material by downloading e-books from the library and by re-reading books from my shelves. Once read I would normally hang on to a book only if it’s received my ‘highly recommended’ stamp of approval or, exceptionally, a ‘recommended’ one. But with the passage of time the shelves are bursting and I’ve decided that any book I re-read I will dispose of. There may be exceptions.
It’s too much hassle to try to resell books online and too little money to be gained so I take books to my local Oxfam Books. A book given to a charity can often be sold several times over since there’s a strong likelihood that books bought from a charity shop will be donated back to the same shop. This is clearly good for the charity, though less good for the author of the book. I don’t know whether that should bother me.
On my second visit to the Kirkdale Bookshop in Sydenham, South London, and for a mere £21, I now have an additional 10 novels queued up for reading. The shop has a great variety of pre-loved novels, something I just don’t see in my local library, my local Waterstones, or my nearest Oxfam Bookshop. A bookshop to be revisited.
What was I thinking by taking just the one book on holiday! I should have realised that John Grisham’s The Racketeer was never going to last five days and two flights. And what a disappointing holiday read it was. A crazy plot, no pace, and not much in the way of characterisation to excite.
So with two days and a flight remaining, with one of those days forecast to be wall to wall thunderstorms(!), I desperately needed to find a bookshop that sold English language novels. Thanks to Google I located Bertrand, ‘The Oldest Bookshop In The World’, here in Lisbon, where it was claimed they have a small English Language section. Yes it was small and I really struggled to find anything, reluctantly settling on an early Jo Nesbo, Cockroaches. I may have already read it, though it’s not mentioned in the list of books I’ve read. But since I can barely remember the stories of books I have read, hopefully there’s something to enjoy for the next couple of days.